|Title:||Head Coach, 10th Year|
Adam Ward arrived in Augusta with an ambitious plan and little else. 10 years later, his program has sprinted past respectability and into conference and regional contention on an annual basis.
His tireless efforts and eye for detail and talent on the recruiting trails have spurred the Jaguars into unchartered territory. The GRU men’s cross country program, in just its second year of reinstatement in 2011, won the Peach Belt Conference Championships.
In 2012, his men’s squad placed fifth at the NCAA Southeast Regionals and had a trio make the All-Region squad. Two months before the regional, the Jags men took runner-up at the PBC Championships. Ward saw five of his Jaguars earn PBC All-Conference as well as five earning All-Academic accolades from the conference.
The GRU women’s program has made six consecutive NCAA Regional appearances, a first in the program’s history. In 2008, the Lady Jags made their first-ever NCAA Championships appearance in Slippery Rock, Pa., after finishing as the runnerup in the Southeast Regional in Wingate, N.C.
In June, 2012, GRU Augusta Athletics announced the establishment of Women’s and Men’s Outdoor Track & Field programs, which will be headed up by Ward.
Ward’s peers in the PBC have definitely taken notice, selecting Ward the league’s Coach-of-the-Year in five of the last six seasons after three consecutive, top-three finishes in the conference during that stretch.
The 2008 edition of the Lady Jags enjoyed unprecedented success, claiming three victories and three runner-up efforts. At the conference championships, GRU had four top-12 finishes and placed four runners on the all-conference squad.
When GRU Augusta finished second in the 2007 PBC championships, it marked the school’s best finish since 1995. GRU Augusta went on to place fifth out of 23 teams with three runners in the top 32 at the South Regional.
Under Ward’s watch, the Jags have had five All-Southeast Region selections (Jenafer Forward in 2008; Holly Keeper in 2009; Alicia Connolly, Dustin Ross and Robert Blackwelder in 2012), 16 All-Peach Belt Conference selections over the last six seasons and two PBC Freshman-Of-The Year picks.
A 2001 graduate of Murray State University with a B.S. in Exercise Science, Ward served as a volunteer assistant coach with the GRU Augusta cross country program in 2003. He assisted the Murray State cross country program in a similar role in 2001. He is a USA Track and Field Level II certified coach. Ward earned his master’s degree in Health & Physical Education from Augusta State in 2005.
Ward is a former president of the local running club Augusta Striders and as an at-large member of the Augusta Sports Council Events and Planning Committee, he was involved in the design of the course for the Augusta Chronicle Half-Marathon that was first staged in October, 2008.
A former Peach Belt Conference representative to the USTFCCCA (U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association) on the DII Executive Council, Ward is also an at-large member of the USTFCCCA Division II Awards Committee.
He is married to the former Ashlynn Young of Augusta, Ga. They are the parents of a son, Carter, and a daughter, Mary Blake.
He blazed the cross country trails at UNC Pembroke all four years to earn four NCAA All-American accolades, and now he’ll be a Jaguar as an assistant to cross country and track field head coach Adam Ward. From Harare, Zimbabwe, Ndhlovu garnered his first of four All-American honors after placing 30th out of 182 at the NCAA DII Cross Country National Championships in Evansville, Ind., and was named Freshman of the Year by the Peach Belt Conference in 2009. That season he was named to the USTFCCCA (United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association) All-Region Team, the PBC All-Conference team and earned PBC Runner of the Week three times.
“We are extremely fortunate to have a person with Pardon's experience and achievements joining our staff,” Ward said. “He will provide valuable insight to competing at a high level that our team will benefit from greatly."
Ndhlovu led the Braves in all eight races as a freshman and as a sophomore in 2010, repeated his PBC All-Conference honor, while adding PBC All-Academic, USTFCCCA All-Academic, and the PBC Presidential Honor Roll. He was named PBC Runner of the Week for breaking his own school record in the 8K at the Jaguars’ home meet on Oct. 23, 2010 where he finished first and assisted his team to the overall title. After placing fourth at the NCAA Southeast Regional Championships, Ndhlovu made it to the NCAA DII Championships – taking 64th at the 10K in 32:02.3.
His junior and senior years he earned USTFCCCA All-Academic and All-Region status for the third and fourth times and as a junior was named a Capital One Academic All-American, and the USTFCCCA Male Athlete of the Year for the Southeast Region. The dual track and field star could not have ended his career with UNCP in any other fashion than claiming all-American status his senior year in the 5,000m run with a time of 14:47.62 for a seventh place finish at the 2013 NCAA DII Outdoor Track and Field Championships. He was later named PBC Track Athlete of the Year and Southeast Region Men’s Track Athlete of the Year.
Gaining his B.S. in Business Administration from UNPC in May, 2013, Ndhlovu will be a graduate assistant working with middle and long distance athletes.
Olimpia Nowak, a Rawicz, Poland native will also be joining the Jags as the sprinters/jumpers coach. Nowak dominated UNI and the entire Missouri Valley Conference since her freshman year in 2008 when she was named MVC All-Conference and Women’s Field Athlete of the Week for both indoor and outdoor track and field. As a freshman Nowak set a school record in the pentathlon at the MVC Indoor Championships, taking the Valley crown and narrowly missing the all-time MVC record by one point.
She took a redshirt in 2009 and picked up as a sophomore in 2010 by winning the indoor conference championship for pentathlon, setting a personal-best for shot put, and qualifying for the NCAA Outdoor Championships in Eugene, Ore., for the heptathlon. In 2011 she was named a second-team All-American by the USTFCCCA for both indoor and outdoor track and field.
Her final year as a Panther she set school records in the heptathlon with 5,686 points at the Drake Relay and anchored UNI’s 4x100m shuttle-hurdle relay to a school record.
Nowak was ranked No. 10 in the nation for the heptathlon entering the outdoor championships and earned first-team All-American honors by placing eighth in the pentathlon at the indoor championships. She ended her collegiate career by setting school records in points for the pentathlon (4,067) and breaking her own 2011 record for the 10m hurdles.